Why handmade dog treats are better for your dog

Show your dog you love them with handmade dog treats!

Healthy, handmade dog treats made by ourselves or bought from one of the growing number of artisan pet bakeries in the UK are one way of showing our furry family members we love them. Every dog owner wants the best for their dog. Dogs give us unconditional love and companionship, so it’s only natural we want them to have the best in life!

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More than half (55%) the UK’s dog owners say they ‘prefer’ their pet to the rest of their family, a figure rising to 69% among under 44-year-olds. 97% declare their dog is their ‘greatest pleasure in life,’ while more than half (54%) allow their pet to sleep in the family bed. Two thirds (66%) of under 44-year-olds say they have chosen a dog ‘over parenthood for now’.

Clearly, the pampered pooch culture is alive and well in the UK. From posh handmade treats and luxury dog hotels to the demand for designer dogs, we are certainly a barking mad nation of dog lovers!

Not any old dog treat will do!

Today’s dog owners are not only buying more dog treats but we are also searching for dog treats which are unique, healthy and sustainable! We don’t want any old dog treats we want to buy our furry family members dog treats that are functional, fun and interesting which reflect our dog’s place as a part of the family. And treating occasions cover the gamut. It could simply be treats for treats’ sake, a reward for good behaviour or maybe a more functional purpose such as to provide a health boost to our dog beyond what’s available from its food.

In fact, many UK dog owners care more about their dogs than themselves. And, according to Alistair Ball, Head of Pet Insurance at Asda Money “It’s clear people want to treat their dogs, with 36% giving them daily treats”.  

Popularity of dog treats in the UK

From January 2013 to December 2017, 2,079 pet products were launched in the United Kingdom. Dog snacks and treats was the most popular category, with 668 products released over the period. This was followed by wet cat food (448), wet dog food (348), cat snacks and treats (284) and dry dog food (157).

Dog treats without any nasties priority for most owners

Buying dog food and dog treats that don’t contain any dangerous ingredients is a priority for many dog parents. Yet, many of the mass-produced dog treats available in supermarkets pose potential health problems. They exceed dogs' daily energy allowance guides and fail to properly specify ingredients, experts say.

Studies have revealed many dog treats including biscuits, chews and dental sticks contained well above the recommended ten per cent of a dog's daily energy needs. And owners who overfeed treats to their dogs risk their pets becoming overweight and suffering from illnesses like diabetes.

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Research recently completed by Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals that many dog and cat treats are far higher in calories than a Big Mac!  One of the most serious problems is the calorie and fat content and the level of obesity this could cause.

Many busy dog owners who haven’t got time to make dog treats are increasingly purchasing handmade dog treats from businesses like Kelso & Titch which don’t contain any of these toxic nasties! In fact, pet entrepreneurs like Kelso & Titch are investing in new machinery just to keep up with client demand for dog treats!

Denzels have recently launched a range of healthy hand-baked dog chews which you will find in Mutt & Pooch’s limited edition dog treat gift boxes.

Denzels have recently launched a range of healthy hand-baked dog chews which you will find in Mutt & Pooch’s limited edition dog treat gift boxes.

Another UK pet food brand, Denzels have recently launched a range of healthy hand-baked dog chews reflecting the popularity in health snacks for humans. And forward thinking, eco-friendly brand Bug Bakes have created the UK’s first dog treats made with sustainable insect protein!

Trends in the dog treats market

It is no surprise that the dog and cat treat market is one of the fastest growing areas in pet food - it has increased in volume and value year-on-year. The trends for humanisation, premiumisation and raw meat (freeze dried) can also be seen in treat trends.


Dog owners are buying healthy dog treats with functional benefits like dental and oral health, skin and coat plus joint health. So, as well as tasting great, dog treats can play an important role in maintaining the overall health of dogs.  In many ways, customers are looking for the same thing in their dog treats as they are in the snacks they consume themselves. The rise of healthy snack options for humans has produced a rise in the desire for healthy dog treat options, too.

By including ingredients like carrots, spinach, tomato and sweet potato in dog treats, businesses who make handmade dog treats can increase the nutritional and functional value they provide to their customers’ pets.

Specialty dog treats, especially those related to holidays like Christmas, Easter and even Valentine’s Day are popular so are great markets for pet businesses to tap into. The demand for organic dog treats and vegan dog treats are also on the rise.

Pet owners are also paying more attention to superfoods, also considered functional ingredients, says Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.

And if  you want to appeal to millennials make sure your pet treat packaging is pretty!

Treats, treats and more dog treats!


Why do dogs love treats so much?

Most dogs love treats. In fact, the word ‘treat’ is one of the most recognised words in the domestic canine kingdom.

They taste great

 Dogs love treats because they taste great.  Most dog treats are made with savoury ingredients like beef, chicken, fish or lamb. Some treats such as jerky are even made of pure protein. 

They are fun to eat

Dogs also love treats because they are fun to eat especially jerky and chews which come in all shapes and sizes. Some dog chews will keep your pooch happy and occupied for hours! High quality, handmade dog treats are made with premium ingredients with no preservatives or by products. This means that when your dog eats one of these treats it will supplement their body with beneficial vitamins and nutrients.   

They are in limited supply

Another reason dog treats are so popular is because they are limited so dogs typically find them more attractive than their regular food.

Dog treats make a great training reward!

For training purposes, treats are invaluable. Around 90 per cent of dogs are motivated by food, making dog treats the most effective reward to offer.

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Expert dog trainers agree that dog treats are an effective and appropriate training tool and a great way to say “well done” in terms your dog clearly understands.

Dog treats vs belly rubs

The jury is out on whether our canine companions prefer dog treats to belly rubs! Research has found that for some dogs, human affection was more compelling than a snack. Aside from reminding us of the deep social origins of the species, this information could prove valuable for training and selecting working dogs. An excellent review of this new research can be found in S E Smith’s essay called Some Dogs Prefer Praise to Treats

Do dogs like working for their treats?

Yes they do!. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Agricultural Sciences, dogs prefer to earn their treats by working for them. So, if you really want your dog to enjoy his treat, ask him to perform a command for it!

Dog treats to avoid

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Rawhide treats can be dangerous to dogs. Not only have they been found to be a choking hazard, they also contain toxic ingredients. Rawhide is made from the inner layer of animal hide; beef, and now lamb being the most popular in the UK. This hide layer is washed in a light chlorine solution to remove any harmful bacteria, cut up and made into shapes, dried then sold. I certainly wouldn’t want my 16 month old yorkie, Coco, chewing on rawhide treats, would you?!

Wheat gluten is also hard for some dogs to stomach. Whilst many leading dog treat companies are confident dogs can easily digest wheat gluten, this is not the case. In fact, it is hard for many dogs to digest gluten and consequently they will suffer from gluten allergies.  The Irish Setter is one breed that has been proved cannot tolerate gluten at all (Gluten Sensitivity Enteropathy).

Treat your pooch to a limited-edition handmade dog treats gift box

Why not treat your dog to one of Mutt & Pooch’s limited edition, handmade dog treats gift boxes?  All the dog treats (including Kelso & Titch & Denzels) are handmade with love in the UK and are guaranteed to get your dog’s tail wagging! Until next time!

Anne Morgan